Lt. Gen. Austin: America’s Last Iraq War Commander
It’s official. Army Lt. Gen. Lloyd Austin, the director of the Joint Staff and a former corps commander in Iraq under Gens. David Petraeus and Raymond Odierno, has been nominated to command the final phase of the Iraq war. The respected Austin’s confirmation is pretty much certain.
If and when Austin returns to Iraq, he’ll be tasked with executing the total withdrawal of 50,000 U.S. forces by December 2011, in line with the U.S.-Iraq Status of Forces Agreement. By September, the war will be officially renamed Operation New Dawn to reflect the massive change in focus. There’s a chance there still won’t be a new Iraqi government for Austin to partner with, but his primary mission aside from the withdrawal will be advising and assisting the Iraqi army and police, even as insurgent violence against U.S. forces and Iraqi civilians persists. His confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee — not yet scheduled — will probably be the most fulsome discussion so far of how national leadership views the end of the U.S.’s long and unhappy presence in Iraq.